Sarah Crawford of West Mifflin started reeling, but the line wouldn't budge. Thinking she had a snag, while fishing on Walnut Creek in Erie County Nov. 4, she set the hook anyway, just in case.
"My line started taking off in the other direction," she said. "It went down the stream, up the stream, back and forth."
After a 15- to 20-minute fight on a spinning rod strung with 8-pound line, Crawford and her friend landed a 37 3/4-inch, 14-pound 12-ounce chinook salmon. The big king took a pink egg sack around dusk at a pool near the Walnut Creek Access Area. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission verified the catch and will issue an Angler Award for Crawford, who's been fishing for less than a year. She's having the whopper mounted.
The state discontinued its king salmon-stocking program in 1995. Other Lake Erie-bordering states also ended their chinook programs (Michigan 1977, Ohio 1980, New York 1997). Pennsylvania's coho salmon stockings stopped in 2003. The state record chinook -- a 28-pound 15-ounce monster -- was caught in 1990.
For several years the state Fish and Boat Commission has worked closely with U.S. Border Patrol agents in Erie County to help stop steelhead poaching by anglers who are not United States citizens
"Anytime we encounter non-U.S. citizens in the course of our duties, we have USBP run a check on them and ensure their resident status is OK," said Waterways Conservation Officer Brook Tolbert. "We have come across non-U.S. citizens that were in violation and taken into custody by USBP."
Tolbert said the Erie tribs are also patrolled undercover by non-uniformed Fish and Boat officers. Report poaching and other violations by calling the PFBC northwest region office at 814-337-0444 or the Walnut Creek Marina at 814-833-2464.
Still need to take a state-required hunter-trapper safety course this fall? Your options are dwindling fast. No regular classes remain, but several independent study courses are available -- none in Southwest Pennsylvania. Independent study students learn the entire course content online (717-787-7015 for a printed version), which involves eight to 10 hours of study. Students then attend a two- to three-hour testing and certification session. Independent study courses are more difficult, and students must be at least 11 years old. Register online at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
• Monday: Mummasburg Sportsmens Association, Adams County, 6:30-9 p.m.
• Tuesday: Adams County Conservation District Office, Adams County, 6-8 p.m.
• Tuesday: Bethel Township Community Center, Chester County, 6-9 p.m.
• Saturday: Greene Township Municipal Building, Erie County, 1-4 p.m.
Terry McLaughlin of Greensburg took a 549-pound female Nov. 9 near Benezette, Elk County. It was among the 10 heaviest elk killed during the 2012 harvest of 52 elk (19 antlered and 33 antlerless). Since the hunt was reinstituted in 2001, 523 elk have been harvested to control population.
The Upper St. Clair Fly Fishing Club's Diego Martinez will present a program on his South American fly fishing trips. The meeting starts with a fly-tying demo at 7 p.m. Monday at the Upper St. Clair Municipal Building library multi-purpose room. 412-835-6107.